By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
The U.S. Postal Service recently suspended mail delivery to Shenango Park Apartments in Hermitage after a mail carrier walked in on what he suspected was a drug deal.
“Our carriers feel their safety is in danger,” said Tad Kelley, corporate communications manager for the post office’s western Pennsylvania district.
Randy Hillard, senior vice president for NDC Real Estate Management Inc., which manages the 200-unit apartment complex, doubted that the carrier saw what he alleges, but hopes a way can be found to restore mail delivery soon.
“It is a very big inconvenience,” said resident Maxine Peagler. “A lot of the tenants are very upset.”
Tenants can pick up their mail at the Hermitage post office, but Peagler said some tenants do not have cars.
Peagler said she wishes tenants had been given more notice of the suspension.
It’s not clear when the alleged incident occurred, but Shenango Park management issued a letter dated April 30 informing tenants mail delivery had been suspended and how to get their mail.
“We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this has caused,” said Property Manager Lisa Ciccolelli, who signed the letter.
The complex has enjoyed door-to-door mail delivery. Kelley called the suspension “temporary” and said he is hoping park management will build a single-point delivery station, where the carrier can go to one place, fill individual mailboxes and leave.
Hillard said he’s not against building such a station – which he estimated would cost at least $15,000 – but it cannot be done quickly. The station would have to be ordered and a concrete pad poured.
“If we started today it would take a month to be installed,” Hillard said, adding that he hopes an arrangement can be made to get mail delivered sooner.
“We need to get mail service out there until we’re doing something,’ Hillard said.
Hillard said the Hermitage post office is a long way to go for tenants to get their mail.
“Some of the people out there, the mail is the highlight of their day,” he said.
Peagler said she hopes someone will fully investigate the alleged incident, but it was not immediately clear if anyone is. The Herald was unable to reach Hermitage police. Kelley said the postal service has its own criminal investigators, but did not say if this incident was under investigation.
As Kelley described the incident, “A carrier walked right into a (drug) deal.” Peagler she said she heard that the carrier had been threatened.
“I can’t blame him,” Peagler said, adding that tenants “love” their mail carrier and share concerns about safety.
In the last month or so, Hermitage police filed charges in relation to a stabbing, a theft of drugs, an attempted stabbing, an attempted car theft, a man who was found to have marijuana on him on two occasions, a woman who was kicked in the face, and man who was shot in the arm, all occurring at the complex.
Hillard’s account of the incident that led to the mail suspension was more benign. The carrier walked into a hallway and saw three teenage boys, one of whom bolted out a back door.
“He may be afraid but there’s no real threat there,” Hillard said. “None of our staff has ever been threatened.”